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Jorge Linares brimming with confidence, despite setback, as he moves up to 140 pounds

Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
29
Sep

LOS ANGELES — It’s not just a new weight class for Jorge Linares.

He also sported a new hairstyle during his first public workout since his knockout loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko in May. Linares’ hair was tied neatly into a top knot Tuesday at Westside Boxing Gym in Mid-City, but don’t call it a comeback.

Linares (44-4, 27 knockouts) swears the defeat to Lomachenko wasn’t a setback at all. In reality, he’s right: the knockout loss only raised his stock. He was matched up with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, and Linares didn’t just fight on even terms with his opponent for nine rounds. He also dropped Lomachenko hard earlier in the bout.

The Venezuelan lost his status as Ring lightweight champion, but now he’s ready to conquer another weight class. He begins the journey Saturday in Indio, California, against Abner Cotto in a fight streamed on Facebook Watch.



“My new division, 140, I think it’s a good thing for me going up. I’m ready for that. I want a title in a fourth division,” Linares told The Ring in English, though he often conducts interviews in Spanish and is fluent in Japanese as well. “I’m focused on this Saturday and maybe next year I can make good fight for new title match.

It feels like Linares has been around forever. After all, he made his HBO debut in 2007 when he won his first world title in a 126-pound bout with Oscar Larios. Still, he’s just 32 years old, and Linares feels he has plenty left to give.

The defeat to Lomachenko didn’t dampen his spirits. It didn’t make him question his ability or affect his confidence one bit, he claims. Rather, the performance proved to himself — and really others — that he can hang with the best in the world.

“I don’t care about the last fight I lost with Lomachenko,” Linares said. “I lost with the best; the best pound for pound. Now I have amazing energy.

“A lot of fighters when they lose get down on themselves. I myself was close, I lost. I accept it, it wasn’t for me that night. The most important thing is I’m here and I’m healthy. I’m ready to go and I’m still probably one of the best fighters out there.”

The junior welterweight division promises to present new challenges, and maybe even a better version of Linares. He’s been fighting at 135 pounds for almost seven years, and at this age, the weight cut was becoming more and more difficult. Those last few pounds were the hardest, naturally, and he’s confident he was burning muscle off.

“I feel better, stronger, fast. Now I only have to lose three pounds. It’s very hard when you have to lose six or seven pounds,” Linares said. “It’s crazy. That’s why I move to 140.”

He’ll make one exception for another fight at lightweight: a rematch with Lomachenko. Other than that, he’s campaigning exclusively at 140, where he hopes to finally secure a fight with Mikey Garcia and even has an eye on ever-improving titleholder Jose Ramirez.

After he’s through with Cotto (23-3, 12 KOs), a lightly regarded fighter who is the second cousin of Miguel, Linares plans to “build more muscle … because so many opponents have bigger bodies than me.”

For now, he’s only worried about putting on a good show and showing everyone he’s a beautiful boxer. He’s confident the rest will take care of itself.

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger

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